The deckbuilding genre has had a pretty wild ride in recent years. While it began with board games, it has really started to pick up in the video game industry as well. There have been quite a few pretty huge indie video game hits in this genre in recent years. I would say that most deckbuilders seem to seek out a more adult audience with their darker themes and more complex gameplay. While not a huge fan of the deckbuilding genre, I was intrigued when I first saw Fuzz Force: Spook Squad. Between the game’s cute theme/atmosphere and the game’s premise of swapping out cards with dice, I was intrigued to see what the game would have to offer. Fuzz Force: Spook Squad can become a little frustrating at times due to the reliance on luck, but it is hard to ignore the game’s fun yet surprisingly deep gameplay wrapped in a charming atmosphere.
In Fuzz Force: Spook Squad you play as the newest recruit to the Spook Squad. The Polter Prince has risen and is causing havoc. Ghosts have run amok and you are called in to try and stop them. Can you put an end to the Polter Prince’s reign and return peace to the town?
Fuzz Force: Spook Squad plays a lot like a card drafting game. Basically the game replaces the cards typical of the genre with dice that you will roll each turn. To begin each turn of a battle you will get to choose one of three different actions. You can choose to roll the red dice to attack the opponent, or the blue dice to put up shields to defend against their attacks. Finally there are the green dice which charge your battery. Your battery power is important as you have two types of dice for each of the three actions. To get the benefit of the more powerful die, you will use up an amount of energy equal to the number that you rolled with the die. If you don’t have enough energy to perform the action, that dice won’t do anything on your turn.
Basically Fuzz Force: Spook Squad is structured like a tabletop RPG. You will begin each run by choosing a character and a weapon which changes your specialty heading into your adventure. You are then plopped onto a grid where most of the spaces are hidden. You will choose which neighboring space that you would like to move to. Some spaces do nothing, some give you a little piece of story and let you make a choice, some contain treasures, some will have a store, and finally others contain creatures that you have to fight. The goal of each floor is to reach the steps which will take you to the next floor. You can choose to head to the next floor as soon as possible, or you can explore further in order to find better dice and equipment to make you more powerful. The ultimate goal is to capture the Polter Prince at the end of your journey. If you should run out of health before you are able to accomplish that though, you will lose all of the equipment and upgrades that you acquired during your run.
While I genuinely enjoy the deckbuilding genre, I honestly haven’t played a lot of games from it. I think a lot of this has to deal with the fact that too many games in the genre fail to really differentiate themselves. While the basic premise is quite enjoyable, when so many games feel basically the same it is hard to get excited about a new game from the genre. This is one of the main things that intrigued me about Fuzz Force: Spook Squad as it actually had a unique twist on the formula. Instead of choosing cards to add to your deck, the game is based around upgrading and tweaking the dice that you roll. This was an interesting enough twist that I was intrigued.
I generally enjoyed Fuzz Force: Spook Squad. On the surface the game does seem to be going for a more family audience than most games from this genre. The game utilizes a cute ghost hunting theme after all. The atmosphere and theme in general are really well done. I like the game’s graphical style and the game does a good job mixing in the tabletop RPG element as well. Based on the game’s theme you would think the game would be pretty easy to play. Generally I would agree with that statement as the game is more streamlined than most games from this genre. I will say that the game has a bigger learning curve than I expected though. I think a lot of this comes from the game only having a brief tutorial and the fact that the game is different than any other game that I have played. It takes a little while to fully understand all of the game’s mechanics, but after that point the game is quite easy to play.
I think the main reason why Fuzz Force: Spook Squad succeeds is that it actually does a good job balancing between accessibility and strategy. The game is easy to play, outside of the initial learning curve, but there are still quite a few decisions to make in the game. While there are only three different actions that you can take on each turn, between the equipment and the dice you upgrade you actually have quite a few different things that you can try. You can utilize a mostly offensive strategy where you try to drain enemies health quickly, or you can go with a more defensive strategy minimizing the amount of damage you receive. With either of these strategies though you need to make sure your battery remains charged or it will severely limit what you can otherwise do.
What makes this even more interesting is the different types of combos that you can end up creating. Each piece of equipment gives you a different benefit and some of the dice have status effects outside of their numbers as well. You can create combos between these different effects which can create really powerful builds. For example in one of my runs I was able to keep my character angry which adds to the character’s attack ability. I also had an ability that automatically recharged my battery to full whenever my character was angry. With these two effects my character’s battery was always fully charged so I could just keep attacking enemies with the full strength of my character. This created a really powerful character that could mow down enemies pretty quickly before they even had a chance to deal much damage.
This is probably the element of the game that I enjoyed the most. While you somewhat have to alter your strategy based on the equipment and dice you acquire, these various effects give you quite a few customization options for your character. This can make you feel quite powerful and proud of your build when you create a combination of equipment and dice that support one another. I felt a strong sense of satisfaction when I was able to make a build that was almost unstoppable. You can’t rely on that build for long though as each run will give you different opportunities and challenges to overcome. Those who like creating combos in deckbuilding games will likely really enjoy this aspect of Fuzz Force: Spook Squad.
While there are a lot of things that I liked about Fuzz Force: Spook Squad, there are two things about the game that kind of frustrated me.
The first has to deal with the game relying on a little more luck than I would have liked. The game actually gives you a lot of opportunities to craft your own strategy allowing you to create some builds that will make your journey much easier. To succeed in the game though you need to rely on a decent amount of luck. You could have a good strategy in place, but if luck is not on your side you likely will die before you reach the end of your journey. Luck comes from a couple different areas. First the dice and equipment you acquire play a big role in how well you will do. There are dice and equipment that are considerably better than others in my opinion. If you get these items it will be much easier to succeed than if you don’t.
Just as much luck comes from rolling well in the battles as well. There will be times where you roll really well allowing you to decimate an enemy. There will be other times where you roll poorly and your opponent rolls well. In these cases it will be really hard to survive. You could be having a really good run and then some bad rolls could put an end to it. With any game that relies on dice rolling, there will be some degree of luck involved. At times the luck seems to play too big of a role though. Most of the times when you die it will be your fault. There will be times though where it feels like it wasn’t really your fault that you died. This is kind of frustrating especially since you really don’t gain much out of each failure.
Speaking of failures, the other issue with the game mostly revolves around its roguelike elements. I will admit that I have never been a huge fan of the genre. This is likely due to the fact that I generally prefer playing games where you keep making progress until you eventually beat a game. Meanwhile in roguelike games the emphasis is on improving your skills with each failure in order to make it further on your next attempt. I don’t hate the genre, I just prefer games where you don’t literally lose everything when you die. I don’t hate that the game has these type of mechanics as I appreciate that most runs should only take 30-60 minutes so you aren’t losing hours of time when you fail. With the game’s reliance on luck at times though and the fact that you get nothing out of your failed runs, it is kind of annoying how some of your runs will end abruptly where it doesn’t feel like it is your fault.
Because of the roguelike elements, the game does rely on utilizing the same locales for each run and fighting the same final boss. On the positive side each floor is randomly generated so each time you play the experience will be different. Along with this there are several different characters and weapons to start your run with. These can actually change the gameplay quite a bit as each character/weapon combo changes up the gameplay by focusing on a different strategy. Still the gameplay does get a little repetitive after a while. Those that like the roguelike genre won’t mind this all that much, but those who like new places to explore may be a little disappointed.
I was initially intrigued by Fuzz Force: Spook Squad because it seemed like an interesting tweak to your typical deckbuilding roguelike game. I would say that the game lived up to my expectations for the most part. Unlike a lot of the games from this genre, it is trying to appeal to a broader audience with its charming atmosphere and more streamlined gameplay. The game does have a sort of learning curve, but it is quite easy to play once you get a hang of it. The game still has more strategy than you would expect though. Between the special abilities that you can unlock from your dice and equipment, you can create some pretty powerful combos that make it much easier to make it through your journey. This along with having to balance the three different types of actions leads to satisfying gameplay. I was a little disappointed that the game relies on more luck than I would have liked. The game can get a little repetitive at times as well as you mostly explore the same locations in each playthrough.
If you have never cared for deckbuilding games or roguelikes, I don’t see Fuzz Force: Spook Squad being for you. Fans of the two genres or the game’s premise in general should enjoy Fuzz Force: Spook Squad though and should consider picking it up.
Buy Fuzz Force: Spook Squad online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Fuzz Force for the review copy of Fuzz Force: Spook Squad used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.